Foo Fighters release 11th studio album 'But Here We Are'

Deutsche Welle

Posted at Jun 03 2023 02:38 AM

US band Foo Fighters perform at the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts 2017 at Worthy Farm, near Pilton, Somerset, Britain, on 24 June 2017 (reissued 26 March 2022). Band's drummer Taylor Hawkins (on-screen) died late 25 March 2022 in Bogota where Foo Fighters were scheduled to perform at the Festival Estereo Picnic. EPA-EFE/NIGEL RODDIS

The 11th studio album by Foo Fighters gives insights into the soul of the band's founder, Dave Grohl. The band has recorded 10 songs about goodbyes, letting go and carrying on, grief, and optimism. It seems to be a catharsis for Grohl, a spiritual cleansing following personal tragedies. The death of Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins in March 2022 was hard enough to take. But then Grohl's mother, who had been one of his biggest supporters, died just a few months later, in August 2022.

The surviving band members could have decided that Hawkins' sudden death would be the end of Foo Fighters. Such was the extent of their pain of losing their bandmate and friend. But Grohl decided the band would first pay tribute to Hawkins with memorial concerts in London and Los Angeles, before confirming late last year that Foo Fighters would continue under that name, with Josh Freese joining as the new drummer.


The band went back to the studio and the resulting album, "But Here We Are,” has been released to rave reviews from critics and fans alike. The album opens with the song "Rescued,” which addressed the grief felt in the wake of Taylor Hawkins' death. "The Teacher,” with a guitar sound reminiscent of The Cure, is an ambitious, ten-minute, psychedelic rock epic that sees Grohl grappling with the death of his mother, who was a teacher.

Sound-wise, the album is reminiscent of their previous albums. It's straightforward rock, rough-edged but with Dave Grohl's trademark warm guitar harmonies, which lends a pleasing tension to all the tracks.

But Grohl hadn't always been a songwriter. He got his musical start as a drummer, first with the hardcore band Scream, then joined Nirvana, where he helped craft the sound that would make the band famous. Grohl also found a friend and musical soulmate in the band's singer, Kurt Cobain. He was deeply affected by Cobain's suicide in 1994 and the end of Nirvana. But he soon channeled his sadness into a new project.


Armed with outlines of songs he'd recorded on tapes or noted on scraps of paper for several years, Dave Grohl went into the studio in October 1994, and — aside from a guitar part on the song "X-Static” played by Greg Dulli of Afghan Whigs — recorded all the instrumentation and vocals himself. In his 2021 autobiography, "The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music,” Grohl said the recording sessions were a kind of therapy, comparing them to a defibrillator shocking his heart back into a normal rhythm. The result was the first Foo Fighters album, which was an instant chart hit, even making it to Number 3 in the UK.

Grohl didn't go it alone for long, soon gathering other musicians for his project, which continued its route to success with honest, earthy, hard-but-melodic rock. Taylor Hawkins joined in 1997, becoming Cobain's successor as Grohl's friend and musical soulmate. Each album has been a hit, spending considerable time on the charts, but the most successful so far has been their seventh studio album, "Wasting Light.”

One song on that album especially stands out: "White Limo” is a crazy, hard, punk-slash-rock'n'roll track, a bow to Lemmy Kilmister's Motörhead. And Lemmy himself gets in on the action too: In the video, he sits smoking and drinking whiskey at the wheel of a stretch limousine, with Foo Fighters in the back as a typical rock band with guitars, beer, champagne, and joints. Fun fact: Lemmy never even had a driver's license.


In June 2015, Foo Fighters played a stadium gig while on tour in Gothenburg, Sweden. During the second number, a headbanging Dave Grohl pranced from one side of the stage to the other. Suddenly, he got his foot tangled in a cable, tripped, and fell from the stage, in front of 50,000 fans, breaking his leg. After getting a temporary cast and taking a generous swig of whiskey, Grohl was carried on a stretcher back onstage, where he sat on a chair and finished the concert with the rest of the band.

Not wanting to have to cancel the band's North American tour while his leg healed, the Foo Fighters frontman designed a kind of elevated throne where he could sit and perform at shows until he was able to stand and walk properly again.


That tour featured one very special appearance: In late July 2015, 1,000 musicians gathered on a field near the Italian town of Cesena and together played the Foo Fighters song "Learn to Fly.” The organizer of the "Rockin' 1,000” project then asked Foo Fighters to play in Cesena. The video went viral, and Dave Grohl, still recovering from his fall in Sweden, was moved by it, and promised the band would appear in Cesena — which they did, in November 2015, with Grohl's throne among their road gear.


The throne gained its own fame, and when Dave Grohl no longer needed it, it went its own way. In April 2016, it was rolled onto the stage of an area in Las Vegas, where Axl Rose, the singer of Guns N' Roses, took his seat upon it. Rose had broken his foot ahead of his band's tour and didn't want the relatively minor injury to keep him from performing.

In 2018, Foo Fighters returned to Gothenburg. The band started playing and Grohl ran around in his usual manner — only to again fall from the stage. But the shock was short-lived for the audience: The band was pranking them, having hired a stunt double to recreate Grohl's accident. The real frontman leaped back onto the stage and rocked the stadium.

But Grohl did, in fact, suffer another fall a year later. At a gig in Las Vegas, he had the audience pass him a can of beer, part of which he spilled on an amp, chugging the rest and then climbing back onto the stage — from which he promptly fell again. Luckily, that stage was lower, so Grohl was unhurt and continued the concert as planned.


Ever positive, Dave Grohl deals with personal setbacks the same way he deals with tumbling from the stage: taking it all in stride, getting back up, and making the best of things. He's known for his sense of humor and joyfulness, his unequivocal love of music, and his friends and family.

The world-famous rock star is not above engaging in a drum battle with Animal from The Muppets or taking part in James Corden's "Carpool Karaoke” shenanigans. He encourages his three daughters' musical talents and has proudly invited them onstage to play with him.

When the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a halt in the spring of 2020, and concerts everywhere were canceled, Grohl used his downtime to write "The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music.” In the memoir, he wears his heart on his sleeve, writing candidly about good times and bad, about love, sadness, and optimism — the topics he covers in his music. On the Foo Fighters' latest, "But Here We Are,” Grohl's unique way of telling stories is once again on full display.

This article was originally written in German.


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